You may believe that there are some “mental illnesses” that really require medication. Top of that list is likely to be chronic paranoid Schizophrenia, I would imagine.
The story you are about to hear defies this assumption. Kim is a fierce mother who has devoted her life to her son’s chronic and debilitating diagnosis of Schizophrenia. Now 20, he has spent much of his adult life on locked inpatient units, forcibly restrained, suicidal, actively psychotic, and even non-verbal. A picture of the failures of antipsychotic medication, both Kim and her son were considering assisted suicide because they didn’t know there was another way.
What has unfolded in the space of 5 weeks since completing the diet and detox elements of Vital Mind Reset is the most inspirational case I have ever come across in my career.
They are both on their way to reclaiming their health, vitality, and freedom from a system of abuse.
Yes, anyone can heal. With the right information, motivation, and readiness, anyone can heal, reverse diagnoses, and come off of medications safely.
And an update!
Full Video Transcript
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Well, hi everyone. Today, I am here with Kim. We are about to reveal one of the more extraordinary stories I’ve encountered in my work in the space of radical holism.
A lot of people ask me, “Is this approach and protocol for men? Is it for children? What about old people?”
In my practice, I work with women—and actually, a fairly narrow demographic. The women that I work with are somewhere from 22 to 55, I would say. And I know that this approach has the desired outcome in that population.
But I don’t treat children in my practice who had to live by the principles that I espouse obviously. And I don’t treat men.
It’s only through Vital Mind Reset that I’ve learned about the potential impact of these principles for whole other populations.
Kim is, from everything I’ve observed in our private Facebook group, an intrepid momma. She embodies the qualities that natively, as mothers, we do—which is a relentlessness and a perseverance around the care and protection of our children.
And the trouble is that we can be captured in a system that promises us safety and promises us stability and promises us the kind of care we think we’re looking for our children. And sometimes, we have to learn through the challenges in that system that there has to be a better way.
So, I want to talk about, Kim, why you got to the point of working through the steps of Vital Mind, why it was that you did it, and if you can shed light on what breaking point led you to even consider doing a program like this?
Let’s maybe start there.
Kim O’Keeffe: We live on a small island off the coast of Scotland. And by age 10, I knew something was wrong. It was just my gut feeling.
So, I took him back to Australia to try and get more help. And on the plane, he developed tics, eye tics. And mistakenly, I took him to a pediatrician […] And that’s where it started.
By age 14, they put him on medication then for the tics. And then, they started putting him on anti-psychotics when the tics got worse, and it became Tourette’s.
And then, by age 14, he went crazy. He was psychotic. He was on top of the bridge seeing cats. Each week, he was changing.
They couldn’t pinpoint what it was, so they put him in the hospital for observation for three days. It was bad.
[…] It was $180k roundtrip for me, leaving my other son at home. And from there, it just got worse.
Then he got transferred down to Sydney. He was there for a year. And he was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, Asperger’s, Tourette’s, epilepsy from the medication, anxiety and depression.
And that was such a hard time. They said he was the worse patient they’ve ever had in there. And then, he’d go into the hospital every winter.
So, the longest he was ever out of hospitals since he was 14 was eight months next month. It’s usually around the 5-month mark.
Anyway, it was just bad. It just kept getting worse and worse. He begged to go to the hospital. He was just a mess!
Then the consultant, the psychiatrist, wanted to put him on lithium. He was already on Clozaril, Klonopin, Ativan. And he had a protein leak in his heart. He had fatty liver disease. He was pre-diabetic… all, everything! And they wanted to put him on lithium.
There was no reason why he should be on lithium. And I totally said no.
So then, we got the junior doctors, and the junior doctors looked and said, “No, he shouldn’t be on lithium.”
And then, over a period of time, they said, “None of these drugs are working! Maybe we got the diagnosis wrong.”
So, they started talking about getting him off the meds. And that’s when I was excited because that’s what I’ve been waiting for. As soon as they said that, I was like, “Wow!”
And then, my friend had lent me your book. And she’d been sending your posts on to me. And so that’s when I knew that I could change his life. I had hope again.
I mean, by this stage, he was in his bedroom. He hadn’t left the house. We’ve moved to the mainland. And he hadn’t left the house except to go and get his monthly blood tests.
And that was a nightmare. We had to lock the car. We had tin foil on his head. He thought he had to kill people. He had to kill me. He had to kill the dog. It was bad!
You can see his coding. He would code from music, from just—I don’t know where the codes were coming from. But he would spend hours scribbling these codes. He was just incredibly unwell.
When medicated, he would sleep—on a good day, if I got him up by one o’clock, if I hold his nose, I could wake him up. And yeah, it was bad. He had no life.
But when they suggested that we get him off the meds, I was just so excited.
Oh, when he was 14, they drugged him and all the nurses were saying, “Get him off these meds. And get him out of here.” But I was scared. I thought these people meant to help me. I didn’t know. I was scared of him. He needed to kill his brother.
I totally trusted them. I totally believed that they knew better than me.
I mean, I snuck in a high dose of nicotinic acid, and within 24 hours, he got out of the locked ward and up buying hot chips.
So, I knew that there was another alternative. I knew! But when there was so meds in the system, I’d given up hope.
So, it got to the point—now he’s 20—where he was praying to die every night. And when I woke him up for his med, he would say, “Am I still here?” I would say, “Yeah, you’re still here.” He’s like, “Oh, God”
It was painful to watch. It was painful. I had no life. I couldn’t leave the house. If I had to run and go and get the meds or the groceries, he would phone me, “I’m having hallucinations.”
He sees a man with a gun; he chases him. He’d get spiders all over him. He’s smelling petrol. Just every day. He’d rip off all his clothes and scratch his skin raw because bugs are crawling all over him.
And this man with a gun had been with him since he was 14. He had a top hat, a black top hat. He would chase him and try to kill him.
He said, “You don’t understand what it’s like. I have 16 voices screaming at me to kill you, telling me that you have to die… you’d be better off without me, I have to kill myself,” just unfathomable stuff.
But then, I knew the doctors didn’t know how to get him off the meds. So all I was hoping to get from you was some help with tapering. I was hoping secretly deep down that it would be more, but just tapering.
He was begging me to take him to Dignitas for assisted suicide. And I was fully supportive of it. You were my last attempt. I said, “Let’s just try this. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll talk about Dignitas.”
So, the doctors agreed that he should come off his meds, but they were also worried about his depression. So, they wanted to up his antidepressants. I said, “No, give me a month. Just give me a month.” “I’m going to put him on this diet”, “Just give me a month.”
So, I was in a rush to get this diet started. I was panicking. I couldn’t source the product over here. I was like, “Argh!”
So, all we did was the diet. That’s as far as we got.
We started in January. I started cleaning out the cupboards slowly. He went gluten-free, milk-free from then. I’m just still trying to get stuff out of the house.
I’ve put him through the Reset on March 1st. But we had to go to the psych on March 2nd. She was a new one, a new junior doctor. She wanted to section him. She went to the boss and she was freaked out because he said that “I need to kill everyone. I need to kill the next door neighbor. I need to kill my brother and slash everyone’s necks.”
And he was distressed. He doesn’t kill insects. He doesn’t kill anything. He’s the softest, sweetest boy.
So, this hospital, his whole admissions had been abusive by nurses—bullying. They broke a disc on his spine when he was 14 in a restraint. You name it, it’s happened to him. Because he’s so gentle, they pick on him. Because he opens doors for cleaners, he’s so kind, he will do anything for anybody, people take advantage of that.
By March 16th, he asked to come out in the car. He had never been anywhere except to go and get bloods. And we went for a three hour drive.
By the end of April, we booked a mini-bike because he wanted to go to the forest. He hadn’t even been where we lived. He hadn’t even walked where we lived, and he was on a walk at 8:00 in the morning with me.
He got his camera out. He was photographing and he’s got his camera out.
We went into the forest for three days on this mini-break. He was talking with people. He was amazing!
By four weeks, he had joined a gym and given up smoking.
It’s just been totally miraculous. No one can believe it. No one can believe it. I don’t know what else to say. It is amazing!
Dr. Kelly: I read this article recently on euthanasia in Belgium for mental illness. And for me, that was the first time I had ever encountered the reality that you can get to a point of hopelessness around the chronic nature of ongoing symptoms in the setting of treatment—so we call it “treatment resistance”—you can get to a point where that is the only thing that makes sense.
Obviously, my passion is informing people. So if you know that there is this other way, you will feel either called to it or continue on your conventional path.
It sounds like all that you needed was to know that some other methodology was out there.
Kim: An opportunity…
Dr. Kelly: And you made it happen.
Kim: I knew that…
But I thought he was going to die. Either the medication would kill him or I honestly thought he would kill himself or we’d go to Dignitas because I wouldn’t put my dog through what he was going through.
So, he wanted Coke. I never had Coke in the house. He wanted a packet of crisps every day. And I allowed it because that’s what he would—
But now, it’s so much better because this is the type of food I love—this type of food that feels good. You feel like you’re nourishing your body. It’s amazing.
Dr. Kelly: And he got on board. So, at this point, he’s on board, right?
Kim: Well, he wanted to die, so he would’ve tried anything.
I said, “You probably hate me for taking everything away.”
And you know what he said?
“I don’t miss anything. I don’t miss anything.”
[…] and I said, “You can have anything you want. We just vary it.”
And you can have anything you want. In fact, our diet is sweeter in terms of—your smoothie, that’s quite sweet now.
Dr. Kelly: Right!
Kim: I would never have a smoothie because it’s too fattening, too unhealthy. It’s amazing!
Dr. Kelly: Yeah! I mean, I joke with patients that it’s not like I’m asking you to go on a 30-day juice fast. It’s actually food that’s intended to taste good. You can use natural salt liberally. It should be filling. It should be savory. And then, there’s natural sweetness that comes back to your palate.
It really is just a food diet. And what we’re doing is clearing the slate off a lot of potentially addictive substances, but then, also, this yoyo effect on the immune system (which I would imagine was no small part of what was being labeled as mental illness in his case).
I mean, not to sort of jump down the rabbit hole, but I have a lot of concerns around vaccination and early exposure to pharmaceutical products in stimulating these neurodegenerative processes in children.
Actually, we can heal. The extraordinary reality is that this kind of radical healing is possible.
And I love learning that you haven’t even done all of the parts yet!
Kim: And you know what? We just started. We just started. And he went horse-riding today. And he’s going to the gym at 9:30 tomorrow.
All these meds, we’ve been tapering it after we’ve done the Reset. The next one is Clozaril. That’s the next reduction after we get off […]
And then, we’re going to test epilepsy. We hope we get him off the epilepsy medication and the anti-depressants. And then, he’s clean.
Dr. Kelly: I love that he asked to go to the forest because it sounds like there’s not only a deep desire to reconnect with something that makes sense on a soul level to him, but I imagine that a kind of relationship to a contemplative practice, meditation, breathing, will become important as he begins to wake up. I mean, that’s basically what you’re describing. It’s extraordinary.
Kim: Totally waking up.
And the coffee enemas were amazing. I was freaking out. I was like, “There’s no way he’s going to do this.” I was just like, “Oh, my God!” So, I did one, and I gave him a full description. He’s like, “This is ridiculous!” “You have to do it. If you want to get better, you have to do this.”
And he did it! And he was asking for them. They make him feel amazing. He said they really fix your mood. He said they make him feel really good.
So, he’s does them every day. He loves them.
Dr. Kelly: So, it’s almost like he’s being drawn to the things that will ultimately help support this process that he now feels hopeful about connecting. He’s going to guide the ship rather than having to be coerced.
It’s so powerful for someone who has been disempowered for the greater part of his adult life.
Kim: And that’s it! He’s found his voice. He’s standing up for himself. He’s never stood up for himself.
Someone was smoking in front of him. And he said, “I need to speak to that person about smoking in front of me. It’s not okay.” I was like, “Oh, yes!”
He’s been walked on. He’s been mistreated. Both of us have bowed down to the professionals. They have mistreated both of us.
It’s just amazing. I cannot believe how amazing—not only have I got my son back, I got a massively better version of my son. It’s amazing!
And he thanks me every day for helping him. And he said, “Kelly Brogan saved my life.” And he said, “I’ve never been happy. I’ve never, ever been this happy. I love life!”
He can’t wait to start the day. He can’t wait! He’s like, “Right! What […]? Okay. Come on, let’s go.” And he’s in the car, waiting and ready to go. He wants his independence. He wants to become a heavy goods truck mechanic.
Dr. Kelly: He’s got big plans! That’s amazing.
Kim: It’s five weeks this week that we’ve slowly done the food part. And I cannot wait until we go fully into this.
Dr. Kelly: What has been the reaction on the part of the conventional treaters that you’re working with? Are you feeling supported in the taper process because that obviously could be very challenging?
Kim: Only because they agreed. The last GP doctor agreed to reduce the med. They got the GP onboard. That was all good. That was the stepping stone.
But they don’t believe in coffee enemas. They Googled it. The GP spoke about all the dangers of coffee enemas. And my son said, “No, I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care what the dangers are. They’re brilliant!”
They can’t believe it. They’re waiting for him to fall.
Dr. Kelly: Yeah. Right, they’re saying it’s temporary. Yeah.
I mean, it’s natural. When there’s evidence of something that flies in the face of your dogmatic belief system, you have to explain how it could be. So there has to be either “it’s temporary” or “it’s evidence of mania”—a lot of my patients have been told that.
And of course, now, years later, I have a lot of experience to know that these changes are sustainable and lead to only further and further healing.
And it’s interesting about the coffee enemas because you know, I think, that I only know about coffee enemas as somebody who’s a natural skeptic because of Nick Gonzales. And he would show me.
He showed me the Merck Manual that he had in his office from 1970. And coffee enemas were in the Merck Manual. He showed me a paper from the New England Journal of Medicine in 1952 where coffee enemas were the only intervention used for acutely psychotic schizophrenics who were discharged two weeks later.
And he said this used to be part of the conventional medicine armamentarium until the pharmaceutical industry became really dominant.
But on some level, you probably introduced the ripple effect of discomfort on the part of these providers—which is not a bad thing. Discomfort helps us to grow. Maybe they’ll become curious over time. But it’s also not your job necessarily to force the match, the union.
Kim: I can’t help but spread the word. I can’t help it. I wrote a letter to the psych […] I said, “We’re going away.” He said, “[…]” “We’re going away on a mini-break.” “What you did was really unhelpful.”
And if the consultant was any type of a consultant, he would be on the phone asking me what’s going on to try and understand to help other patients.
So, I was cranky.
And people are asking me. People are asking me. They see a difference in me as well. They’re asking me what’s going on. And so I tell everyone.
Dr. Kelly: I have to talk about this because you did this for your son, but there was a surprised fringe benefit for you (which I think is just the beauty of this kind of healing—the side effects are always positive in nature).
So, how have you been doing?
Kim: I mean I was drinking gallons. I was self-medicating because I couldn’t cope. He would rock like […] He would rock all the time. And he couldn’t speak. He was so drugged he couldn’t speak. He was talking gibberish. I was fighting for help. It’s just been a complete mess!
But I thought, “Okay, I can do this for him. I can do anything for my son. I will jump over the moon for my son.” But I thought, “Right, diet changes, I can do that. I can do that for a month. And then, I can go back to coffee and I can go back to where I am on everything. I can do it for a month. I need to set a good example.”
[…] Because we love the food, we don’t want to go back. Why? What would you when you buy food and it nourishes your body?
Ah… it’s so hard to describe.
I’ve always been this person who would like to eat this way, to be this way, to talk this way. But I can’t because I was belittled. As a younger person, I had been a hippie.
I couldn’t justify paying the money for chemicals and beauty products that didn’t have […] And eating really—I mean, I eat legumes and stuff like that. And that was bad enough. And especially in Scotland, my gosh! Scotland is just pure badness.
But this is where I feel like we can start doing it properly now. Start from the start. Start going hard.
And I don’t even know where we’re going to be. I’m just so excited about the future.
Dr. Kelly: Ah, it’s the most powerful statement, and it’s what I always say to the women that I work with—what is coming through this process is something you can’t imagine. And that’s what makes it magical.
You can’t imagine it. If you could, then it would just be the reality that you know, right? But in fact, what’s coming is so much more expanded. It’s like a rolodex of opportunities where, before, you only saw two, for example.
I love that you’ve tasted this possibility, and that’s enough to ignite this fire in you.
I’m hearing what you’re saying which is that “I’ve always been attracted to this type of lifestyle, but I couldn’t own it because I never was able to experience it firsthand as being real.”
And perhaps, your experience through your son had to get quite this dark and desperate in order to generate an opportunity for you to have an experience of its validity, of the deep validity of this lifestyle and this approach to self-care. Otherwise, you could’ve potentially coasted through your whole life, never really being totally convinced of something that, deep down, you know.
It’s why I always say it’s like you’re being reminded or it’s like you’re remembering something that you’ve always known. This isn’t a new concept.
Kim: It feels so right. […] and I just felt like I’m coming home. Just this is who I am.
And I’ve never been who I am. I’ve always been believing everyone else, believing their opinion over mine, believing everything because I wasn’t worth it.
And I couldn’t do self-care. This Reset made you do self-care because you have to do the coffee enemas and you have to eat well and do body brushing. It’s full of self-care. It’s so pleasurable.
You couldn’t self-care when you’re looking after someone who was impossible. But when it’s on the Reset, it’s like, “You have to do this,” so it’s okay.
Dr. Kelly: It’s a medical prescription.
Kim: It felt like […]
And the benefits are amazing! And like I say, I’m only just beginning. And I just want more of that coming home.
And now, if anyone questions what I’m doing or calls me, a GP or whatever, I can just say, “I’m doing it with my time, and I’m doing it with myself,” and that’s it.
Dr. Kelly: And so far so good, right?
Dr. Kelly: Oh, my gosh! Kim, I can barely even respond or I’m going to start crying because it’s so moving. It really is. It’s a level of inspiration that leads me to believe that you and your son have something very important to contribute to the light in this world.
We’re in such a challenging time—as we all feel. And there’s so much wrongness. And your rage and anger is real. And it’s valid. But that rage and anger without this experience of hope and inspiration and empowerment is enough to kill you. It’s enough to make you sick.
So, you really are lighting a path of possibility that has impacted me deeply. And I can only imagine what it will do for a mother in a similar position—and you know there are many—to hear your story.
So, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to continue putting one foot in front of the other in order to find your truth. It’s extraordinary.
Kim: I can’t thank you enough. I really hope that more men come onboard. It does put people off because—and I did have this with my son. But […]
Dr. Kelly: I know! I’m working on this. You’re absolutely right.
This has been meaningful to me, to see that why should it be just available to the women I feel here to serve—especially when those women are part of a greater fabric. They have children, they have spouses, they have cousins and uncles. And so it’s a point well-taken.
Kim: Yeah, I think we can just go forward so far from here. It is just the beginning.
And the word will get out because the changes are massive. And it happens so quickly.
So, I just can’t thank you enough for everything. We would never have been able to come over and see you, so thank you.
Dr. Kelly: Right, right. Exactly!
Kim: He’s been in a mental hospital, he wouldn’t have been able to come into the States. So, that alone…
So, you putting it out there and cutting out the middleman, it’s fantastic. Thank you.
Dr. Kelly: Oh, that’s music to my ears truly.
So anyway, thank you, Kim.
Kim: As I’ve said, thank you for saving his life. Thanks very much.
Dr. Kelly: Beautiful, it’s beautiful.